IWCS: Thornton Center renaming didn’t violate policy

Published 4:20 pm Monday, October 10, 2022

The Isle of Wight County School Board didn’t violate its own policy by voting in September to rename Smithfield High School’s career and technical education building the “Thornton Career Center,” school system officials say.

The School Board announced plans in June to rename the building for now-retired Isle of Wight County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton, then made the change official with a 3-1 Sept. 8 vote.

School Board Policy FFA mandates “no school will be named for a living individual.” Schools can only be named for individuals “who have been deceased for at least 10 years,” the policy states.

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IWCS spokeswoman Lynn Briggs contends the renaming complies with the board’s policy since it’s only the detached CTE building, and not Smithfield High School itself, that’s being renamed.

The school system is planning a dedication ceremony to celebrate the renaming, but no date has been announced yet.

Thornton, who retired July 1, had overseen a multimillion-dollar countywide renovation of the school system’s career and technical education facilities in 2017. The detached SHS facility became home to Isle of Wight County Schools’ new welding, nursing, engineering, manufacturing and culinary arts programs – including a student-run restaurant named “Turner & 10” for the school’s location at Route 10 and Turner Drive.

The CTE expansion also included the addition of a greenhouse and horticulture program at Windsor High School, as well as a working salon run by cosmetology students, a building trades workshop and a working farm behind Windsor Elementary for agriculture students.

In 2016 and prior, IWCS would send students interested in taking career and technical education courses to Suffolk’s Pruden Center, though few Isle of Wight students took advantage of the opportunity.